Sunday, February 2, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge 2: Innovation

Challenge 2 was about innovation, and initially I wasn't going to try to do anything.  Then "Nineteenth century fashion in detail" turned up at the library and I got enthused about the net dresses (which were listed in the chapter on "innovations"), and thought I can do this.  I particularly liked the black net dress embroidered with tiny gold spangles over a white satin underdress, which then prompted thoughts of using up some of the box full of silver bugle beads I have.  So with great intentions I got the fabric, and an old sheet and started working on a pattern for the bodice.  Which is where everything fell apart.  I just couldn't get the bodice from the Simplicity pattern to sit how I wanted it to sit.  In the end I roughly used the shoulder straps and side and just made up the rest, and then made it fit with lots great big darts.  Final conclusion (after spending the long weekend trying to get it to work), it that I need to have a serious look at my dress form so that it reflects the shape that I am (and not what I wish I was!)  because that was where a lot of my problems were coming from.  I need to pad the front somehow so that I can get the correct drape over the bodice.

So, at this stage the dress is bacially together, but I can't really say that it's finished as it needs quite a bit of hand sewing to get the lining in place.  I haven't done any of the embroidery on the skirt I had first thought about, and looking at it at the moment I'm thinking the net might sit better if I finish the edge of the net skirt with a strip of the satin, just to help weight it down.  However, I think it's an achievement that I actually got it to this stage as I was ready to toss it out a number of times!  Now, I think I may actually go ahead and put the beads on it.

The innovation connection is that the bobbin-net machine was patented by John Heathcoat in 1808, which made net dresses much more affordable.  Initially all machine made net was plain and had to be embroidered by hand

The Challenge: No. 2: Innovation
Fabric: All synthetic - Black bridal tulle and silver satin.
Pattern: I started with the Simplicity 4055, but in the end I think it was more made up than anything.  I liked the appearance of a couple of the embroidered net dresses in "Nineteenth century fashion in detail" by Lucy Johnston, and took this as my starting point.
Year: 1807-11
Notions: White lawn to line bodice, thread was what I had,
How historically accurate is it? Somehow I don't think it's very accurate at all. 
Hours to complete:  Far too long spent mucking around with pattern drafts for the bodice, maybe 40 hours.
First worn: Not yet
Total cost: $70 approx.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It's really too hot to do anything!

Mini Mandala 2
The summer heat has stuck with a vengeance - yesterday was 45 degrees, and the forecast for today is 44 (I'm sure I'll notice that 1 degree!), and of course last night when I was just about ready to settle down for a bit of sewing, with the air conditioner finally getting the place a bit cooler - the power went out!  I can't say I was really surprised, there was obviously thunder/electrical storms around the area, not that we got any rain out of it, and by the time the power came back on about an hour or so later, I'd turned off and unplugged everything and wasn't about to turn things back on.

I have at least started work on the next Chatelaine Mini Mandala series 2, no. 2.  I've got the centre section in. This is my take to work project as it's just in a small round hoop and easy to carry around.

Old version of dress.
I've decided to join in with the Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014 myself, instead of just reading everyone's blogs.  I'm not sure how many challenges I will be able to complete, but I can get off to a good start with #1.

I'm fixing up the white Regency dress I made last year.  I finished it in a hurry so I could use it in a display, and the bodice really doesn't fit me and I don't think the frill around the neck edge is a good idea either.  Which means the only solution is to take the whole bodice off and start again, although I will have to re-use the sleeves as I have enough fabric to cut out another bodice, but not sleeves.

The pattern is based (loosely) on the 1798-1805 bib-front dress from Janet Arnold's "Pattern's of Fashion 1".  I also used instructions from  - which gave some good ideas about making the skirt, and how the bib-front ties in place.  However I don't think I have got the cross over sections of the skirt in quite the right place, although I now have the nice smooth front that I wanted, and also the bodice looks a lot better.

The Challenge: #1 Make do and mend

Amended dress.
Fabric: White cotton voile embroidered with a paisley design
Pattern: 1798-1805 bib front dress from Janet Arnold's "Patterns of Fashion 1" plus instructions from
Year: 1800 approx.
Notions:  White cotton for lining, white poly. thread.
How historically accurate is it? Machine sewn, bodice pattern started out reasonably accurate but then I added some tucks and darts to make it fit me, so not sure what that did to the accuracy.  The skirt is just a length of fabric with one seam at the back.  So maybe 50%.
Hours to complete: 20-30 (lots of pinning and re-pinning and pulling out!)
First worn: Hasn't been worn yet.
Total cost: $50 for the fabric (can't quite remember as I purchased other stuff at the same time)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A new year ...

This year I have decided to a) finish some of my embroidery and sewing project, and b) post regularly on the blog - not just once every couple of years!  (Be interesting to see how long my good intentions last - but I am off to a good start!

Chatelaine Mini Mandala - series 2 - no. 1

My Christmas embroidery project - just over a week of reasonably solid stitching (i.e. most afternoons),  and I had already got the centre outline done a few weeks before Christmas.  Went really fast until I got to the flowers in the outside border and they seemed to take forever.  I'm really pleased with the finished project, and have piece number 2 set up and ready to go.  It's intended as a project that I can take to work to do in the lunch break as it's only in a small round hoop, and doesn't have lots of threads and bits and pieces.

This also inspired me to get out the large Chatelaine Mandala that has been sitting around for far too long and do more work on it.  Looking at it, it is further along than I had thought, the most notable part missing being the gates on the two sides, the specialty stitches and all the beads.  I have decided to completely finish as I go, on the theory that once I start putting the beads on I won't want to leave it on the frame for longer than necessary, especially once I have to start rolling it up to reach the bottom.
Chatelaine Mandala - Knot Garden

Monday, April 23, 2012

Goldwork Xmas decoration

Goldwork finished and ready to cut out.
I decided to pull out some of the unfinished items stuffed in boxes in the cupboard.  Top of the pile was this little goldwork Christmas decoration designed by Alison Cole.  I'd started some the stems, and put a bit of gold twist on one flower and also put on a couple of the little sequin flowers.  It just needed a bit more gold couched onto stems, and then I added more sequins flowers and also put a bit of gold twist onto a white flower - it wasn't suggested in the pattern, but the flower was right in the middle and I felt the area would have been a bit empty looking without it.
Front and back laced up and ready to be sewn together
Next step was to cut out the fabric, for back and front and then lace the fabric over cardboard cut to shape, then sew front and back together.  Final finishing touch was to make a gold cord and apply around the edge.  The cord ended up being a little looser than I wanted, but pulling it out and starting again would have damaged the thread and it looks fine when sewn on.

Finished decoration

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Koala Convention 2011 - Day 6

It's day 6 already - the week is starting to go really fast!! The finish of Annie Huntley's class saw us learn how to do the green needlelace leaves - I did a practice one off the main fabric as I didn't want to stuff up my first one and then have problems pulling it off the silk. I've also started getting the gold cords couched down. The end of the afternoon we had a go at the bookbinding stitch that we will use to put the whole thing together.
This was actually quite fun as we were basically just lacing thread through cardboard (with some plan behind it) so we didn't have to concentrate too much.

Wednesday was a day off. There was a choice of two bus trips to go on - I picked the Eumundi Markets/Montville tour. it was nice just to have a day off stitching and give the eyes a rest. I was also very restrained and only purchased one small ornament.

Day 6 was the start of the Tambour beading workshop with Karen Torrisi. Progress has not been fast. First off Karen talked about the backgrond of tambour embroidery and about the different types and equipment. Then we started setting up our frame and stretching the organza correctly. This took us until after lunch time! Then it was time to actually try and get the action of using the tambour hook correct - a lot harder than it seems initally. It took until the end of the day before we even had a line or two of stitching done. Hopefully tomorrow will go somewhat better.

Fortunately, tonight's evening presentation was a nice straightforward beaded tassel. Once we got through making the ring of beads around and over the top of the tassel, the bits going down the side was easy to put together - I even managed to finish it during the class.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Koala Convention 2011 - Day 3

Today was the start of a new workshop - an embroidered needlecase with Annie Huntley.  Just looking at what I've brought home it doesn't look like I've achieved much today, but it felt like I was working non-stop!  We traced to pattern onto the background fabric, embroidered the main flower stalk and then put in the gold edge to it.  Then we set-up to start on the needlelace flower petals.  I've got one completed, but the second one I started on I've made the initial stitches too small, so I won't finish that one.
The evening presentation I went to today was on Japanese beading - very interesting to hear about it but I think it is something that would take a very long time to finish.  We got a kit to do a small oblong of beading that we could then make into a needlebook or something similar, but didn't really get time to actaully do much beading at all.  However we have all the supplies and instruction, so it's something I can go back to sometime in the future.

Now it's time to do this evening's homework - I need to couch down the gold spiral on one side of the main stem, so that I can get the correct placement for the green leaves that we will be sewing tomorrow.  I'll also need to finish off the gold edge on the stem first, as the couched thread crosses over it!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Koala Convention 2011 - Day 2

Today was the second day of the Gary Clarke workshop.  Instead of the sample piece we started on the full size fan.  We had covered all the various techniques on the first day, so today we could just work on the areas we wanted to.  I decided I wanted to get the blue outlines of all the birds done before I went on to other areas so that was what I concentrated on - there is still three more to do to fill in the full fan shape.  It's a bit hard to get a good photo of the work - and the tail-ends of all the threads are still there so it makes it look a bit messy, but I don't want to trim them off just yet.  I trimmed a couple of knots on the sample piece, and then of course the ends come undone!

The evening presentation I went to today was a felted silk flower with Wendy Bailye.  The flower is made of two layers of silk with wool tops sandwiched in between the two layers. It actually looks surprisingly good in the photo - for a while I thought it was going to be a total flop as all I seemed to have was an oblong of felted fabric with no shape to it at all.  It's still drying at the moment so it will be interesting to see what it looks like when it has fully dried out.  I think the stamens need to be trimmed just a little bit and a touch of gold paint in the throat of the flower might look nice too.